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  • Nayda Cruz

Make Your Text Easier to Read: Margins

Make Your Text Easier to Read: Margins

To produce an editorial design, such as a book, is a labor a love. You must love your text. You must love it enough to work through every obstacle to make your text easier to read.

Editorial design is more than just copying a text from Microsoft Word and pasting it on a fancy program. It requires attention to detail and technical knowledge.

In this four-part blog series, I will be sharing with you my layout design process when working with long texts.

Let’s begin with the margins.

The first thing that I set up when designing an editorial project are the margins.

Typically, programs such as Microsoft Word set their margins to an inch (1”). If you adjust them to be less than that your home printer may not be able to print the entire text.

Margins in Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign

Programs as Adobe InDesign usually suggest a margin of half an inch (0.5”). Of course, you can customize it to whatever you need.

For example, we are used to have the same margin measure in all four side of the page. But longer text requires to have a bigger measure by the inside side of the page. To ensure that when binding the pages, we do not lose text on the edges of the spine.

I have seen so many digital documents that have a quarter inch (0.25”) or less. Because if it is a digital document, margins don’t matter, right? But you see, margins are more than a “free text zone”.

Margins exist to help with the readability.

Swiss typographer Emil Ruder, said that a line should have from 50 to 60 letters. Other typographers describe their ideal line by words or even by characters (includes letters but also punctuation marks, spaces, and other icons.)

The reality is that readers are humans with amazing brains. Reading is an exercise of gratification. Once you finish a line you jump to the next advancing through the page.

Long lines make the reader feel intimidated and is more likely to not read it.

Short and Long Lines

Short lines on the other hand, makes the reader move their eyes from one side to the other too fast and they end up tiring the eyes.

So, what is the right line length?

There is no exact consensus about what the right line measurement is. Through the years reading has also increase in the digital word. Such as this blog!

But I follow the average from 45 to 80 characters per line.

Characters Per Lines

Remember, characters are not the same as letters. Characters includes letters, numbers, punctuation marks, spaces, and any other special symbol.

Margins and line length is only one aspect of the editorial design.

Margins are the first thing I work with when starting an editorial design. But it is not the only aspect that helps to make your text easier to read.

On my next blog I will be sharing with you the second aspect that I address when designing: typefaces.


This blog is a space to learn about design. I invite you to join my mailing list to receive a monthly email with my new blog post or new Skillshare class.


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